As a child on a Texas farm, she searched for doodlebugs, suffered chigger bites, and cooked her first meal at age five, dutifully moving a chair back and forth from stove to table to reach the work surface. Dorothy reconstructs the ""mind-map"" of those early years, the enlarging boundaries of her young perceptions, in an awkward blend of personal history and scholarly observation. The minutiae are engaging: the hubbub surrounding Halley's Comet; Grandma's gentling presence; enduring misconceptions, such as that famous fellow afar off, Mr. Searsan-roebuck. But the comments that accompany these recollections, pointing out anthropological and psychological significance, are sometimes stiff, sometimes unnecessary. Roughly a third of this book follows those first experiences and their impact on an alert child growing up in an extended family; this part, with its aches, explosions, and changing textures, is a finely detailed remembrance of an active girlhood in a specific milieu. Part Two, however, catalogues games, ailments, and songs as well as household practices and their seasonal variations; as such, it is drier and less enticing for the general reader despite its value as folk research and as a record of one girl's preschool education. Describing herself as ""a maverick in the academic corral"" (no footnotes or bibliography), Dorothy Howard has attempted a unique study but this analysis, while wonderfully graphic in spots, is poorly integrated and bogs down in its ample particulars.